U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder interrupted attorneys numerous times with questions during closing arguments Friday at the North Carolina voting rights trial. The federal judge is presiding over a nationally-watched case that could test the breadth of protections for African-Americans with claims of voter disenfranchisement two years after the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated a key provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The NAACP, League of Women Voters, the U.S. Justice Department and others contend that four parts of the 2013 overhaul to North Carolina’s election laws are intended to disenfranchise black, Hispanic and young voters.
The 57-page omnibus package, referred to as House Bill 589, rolled back at least four measures that civil rights leaders consider a large part of the reason that African-American voter turnout increased greatly between 2006 and 2012.
Throughout closing arguments that were stretched from a projected three hours to more than five because of all the questions, Schroeder asked the attorneys how he should measure parity in voting.
“At some point, the court is going to face the question of ‘When is there parity? When are you satisfied?’” he said. The trial wrapped on Friday, and now all await the judge’s ruling.